Participant Spotlight: Benjel Kikim

Benjel Kikim recently completed her Advanced Professional Training program as a Food and Beverage intern at The Galt house Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. For her final evaluation, Benjel had fantastic insights into what one can learn and experience on the program, which we’re excited to share here!

What were the most positive aspects of your J1 program experience? Being involved in Galt House FNB operations has been a great learning for me. I was able to widen my horizon in terms of career planning. I was able to meet people who were able to inspire me to dream of things I would have never dreamed of because it seemed impossible back at the Philippines. My managers, from supervisors to upper level management, has been nothing but supportive, helpful, and inspiring that I’m going to do my best to reach their expectations of me. It has been a ferris wheel ride from the moment I stepped here in Louisville till now that we have a few days left here in the hotel. And I love every moment of it.

What were the most unexpected aspects of your J1 trainee program experience? The unexpected aspect was learning that there are a lot of opportunities in this industry that I chose.

What are your career plans once you complete your J1 program? I plan to continue my studies in Canada as soon as this program ends. I’m going to apply as soon as I reach home. I believe this would help me reach my hotel industry goals. 

What advice would you give to Intern/Trainees who are considering the program or about to start their program? Always work smart. Though it is only a one year experience, the experience can be a great impact to your future career. Never take it for granted because it is a limited time, you might regret it after. Travel. See places that you have always heard about and watched in movies. It is as magical as you think.

What did you enjoy most about living in Louisville? What I liked about Louisville is its simplicity and beauty. It is like in between a city and the suburbs. Not too noisy and not too loud. It’s like having the activities of a city with the peacefulness of a province. I was lucky to be able to witness and participate on some local festivals and community events. It was because our apartments was near the Fourth Street Live where it is the hub of local events and parties. I was also lucky to work at the Galt House Hotel because it is where big events and conventions are held, and for that we were able to experience and enjoy holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, etc. the American way. Management even let us have a Potluck Party at work, where we brought Filipino Foods for everybody to enjoy. I never really had severe homesickness because my managers and co-workers treated us like family and for that experience I am truly thankful 😭

Overall, do you believe this experience was beneficial to you and/or your career? Why or why not? Yes, because I was able to earn self appreciation and self confidence that I would have never earned if I did not apply for this program. I now know my next step to reach my dreams. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much WWCE for being a part of this journey and for making this journey possible. Please continue helping young people reach their dreams too. 😃

K.Leigh FurzerAPT